SOURCE: Taken from a letter to Dr. Diane Mandt Langberg
Dear Dr. Langberg,
I’ve been married only a few months, but I’m discovering my husband is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde! When we’re in public, he’s usually happy and friendly. But at home he loses his temper easily and has a negative attitude. He didn’t behave this way before we married, so I’m feeling betrayed and discouraged. What should I do?
Let’s face it: There’s no way to know everything about the person you marry until after you take those vows. But your matrimonial “surprise” is beyond the norm.
Your new husband may have a serious anger problem—and may even be potentially abusive. Many abusive, explosive men exhibit a public and private self that’s vastly different; sometimes it’s because they need to feel in control at home since they feel inadequate outside it.
Not only do these men often exhibit a Jekyll/Hyde syndrome, they usually get worse over time. That means what’s anger in an earlier stage later can become abuse. The intensity of anger increases—as well as the frequency.
Answer the following questions about your husband’s outbursts: Does he berate or ridicule you? Does he attempt to control what you say, where you go, what you do? Is his anger full of blame? Has he ever been physically threatening (shaking his fist in your face, throwing something, putting his fist through a wall)? If your answer is “yes,” you need to take action right away.
Be clear with your husband about what is permissible behavior. It’s never okay for either marriage partner to berate, criticize, control, or ridicule the other. If you excuse or minimize his behavior, you’re partnering with your husband in allowing abusive words and/or behavior into your relationship.
Don’t dismiss your concerns. Seek help from someone who will take them seriously. Start with a pastor or a Christian counselor familiar with abuse.
Remember, you aren’t responsible for your husband’s anger; it’s his problem. You can’t manage his anger for him or live so perfectly as to avoid arousing it. Scripture makes it clear that what comes out of a person is because of what’s in his heart, not his environment (Prov. 4:23; Matt. 12:35).
Too often a wife tolerates awful words and behavior “for the sake of the marriage.” But that passively permits destruction to enter the marriage. What goes on behind closed doors needs to reflect Christ’s love. When it doesn’t, help is needed.